Amendment 4 led to 99 times as many formerly-incarcerated Floridians registering to vote as normal, and those new voters are more likely to be black and residents of lower-income neighborhoods than the rest of the electorate, according to a new analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice.
The amendment, which took effect Jan. 8, allows Floridians to register to vote once they finish serving a felony sentence.
Previously, becoming a felon meant forfeiting the right to vote, unless someone overcame long odds by successfully appealing to the state’s clemency board, made up of the Florida governor and three Cabinet members.
Now, a bill passed earlier this month by state lawmakers mandates that finishing a sentence means first paying off all court fines, fees and restitution (or seeking a waiver from a judge), and it awaits Gov. Ron DeSantis’s signature.
“There can be no mistaking the racial and class implications of this regressive new legislation,” researcher Kevin Morris wrote in the Brennan Center study, regarding Senate Bill 7066.